By Nessa Anwar
Every year, Singapore adds at least 200 new cafes to its flourishing food and beverage industry. With so many cafes to choose from on our little island, InstaScram decides to search for cafes with great ambience, away from the hustle and bustle of city life and accessible by private transport.
We visit two intriguing buildings which house two excellent cafes, which fit the bill perfectly without breaking the bank.
Our first stop is the startling, bright red building of the former Bukit Timah Fire Station, which houses Spruce, a diner-cafe on the first floor. The location itself is fascinating enough to warrant a visit, but you’ll stay for the great vibes.
The former Bukit Timah Fire Station was the fourth fire station to be built in 1956, at the junction of Upper Bukit Timah and Old Jurong Road. The iconic station closed in 2005, and Spruce made its home there in 2009, providing Modern Italian-American and local cuisine, along with live bands performing from Tuesday to Friday nights. Spruce regularly updates their promotions and events on their Instagram page.
Other than Spruce, the station also carved out a space for an entertainment hub that’s catered to children. Simply called ‘The Fire Station’, the area has dancing academies, tuition centres and even a party store.
The history of the building as well as the colourful low-rise apartment blocks across from it adds to the charm to the quaint surroundings. And Spruce is one of the growing number of restaurants that are occupying refurbished heritage buildings, similar to Alkaff Mansion and Beaulieu Mansion.
You can enjoy free parking within the premises. For those without wheels, Spruce is located near Bukit Batok or Bukit Gombak MRT. And after a satisfying meal at Spruce, you can always take a stroll through the nearby Bukit Batok Nature Park just across the road.
If you prefer concept cafes instead, InstaScram has you covered. We head to Jubilee Coffee House & Bar, an old-school cafe, along with the decor, tunes and retro paraphernalia to match.
This Asian fusion restaurant is a blast from the the past in more ways than one. From the moment you step into this rustic bungalow along Netheravon Road, your senses will be overwhelmed with a full-on retro experience.
It is easy to be fooled into thinking how new the coffee house really is. With its rustic furnishings, vintage vehicles parked outside, golden oldies playing on the stereo and traditional menu, you might think it has been open for decades. Surprisingly, it has only been around since December 2014.
It is the brainchild of Mr Lee Choon Khim, who also gave us the more popular The Coastal Settlement just down the road, which follows the same nostalgic theme. The style of the restaurant is based on Mr Lee’s own collection of antiques that he has been collecting for the past two decades.
Free but limited parking is provided outside the cafe, but it usually gets very full during brunch and lunch peak hours. For those without wheels, you can take bus 29 from Tampines MRT station, alight at 580 Netheravon Road, and walk to the coffee house.
For those looking for Halal food options, we venture to the cosy Kaw Kaw SG by Makan State, located in the first floor of the Aliwal Arts Centre, located around bustling streets of Bugis. Soak in the retro vibes of this concept cafe while you tuck into the hearty western fare. The cafe often opens its doors to events like birthday parties, product launches and live acoustic sessions. You can even purchase second-hand books and some of the eclectic furniture displayed in the cafe!